Red Gill's Tree

Robert's photo from Burnham Beeches


Robert has recently sent me this photograph of a pollarded tree in Burnam Beeches and wonders:

Could this be the tree that Red Gill (Archie Duncan) was killed by Robin. It looks low enough. I will have to watch the film?
Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire, England, has been used for literally hundreds of movies and TV shows and there is a list of them on this website. It is a truly beautiful place and well-worth a visit.
Back in 2014 I visited and spent the day trying to locate many of the locations used in Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood.

Burnham Beeches was the location chosen by Walt Disney to be his Sherwood Forest, not only because of its close proximity to Denham Studios (12 miles approx.), where two of the huge sound stages were used, but also because of its amazing ancient woodland that was ideal as a backdrop to this classic tale. I have noticed a number of film web sites state that Disney’s live-action movie was the only Robin Hood tale to be filmed in Sherwood Forest. This in incorrect, but shows what a good choice Burnham Beeches was.

Disney's second unit filmed many scenes in an area of Burnham Beeches known as Mendelssohn’s Slope which is filled with ancient pollarded trees. Also at Middle Pond, where Robin (Richard Todd) and Marian (Joan Rice) took their romantic evening stroll, accompanied by Friar Tuck (James Hayter) and Allan a Dale (Elton Hayes) singing ‘Whistle My Love.’

Robin Hood discovers Red Gill's body

I didn't discover the huge pollarded tree that was used for filming, there is so many in the 540 acres! But a close look at some of the stills in Laurence's fantastic picture strip shows that the tree used 70 years ago was much older than Robert's candidate. But many thanks to Robert for sending it in.

Belgian Robin Hood Comic


Special thanks to Matt Crandall for sending this cover of a Belgian comic of 1952. It shows a colourised still of Richard Todd as Robin Hood from the live-action movie released this year. The movie was of course Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men.

Many black and white images, used to promote the film at this time, were colourised. By today's standards, they often look extremely gaudy. This was due to the limited printing technology at the time. 

To view this web sites vast collection of promotional material from the movie, just click on the relevant label.

Elton Promotes Robin Hood


Neil Vessey has kindly sent in some more images of Elton Hayes (1915-2001) promoting Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood. Regular readers will know that Elton played Allan-a-Dale in the Disney live-action version of the legend. The picture above shows Elton playing songs from the film at Bingley Hall in Birmingham.

The magazine article that Neil has found, appeared in 'To-Days Cinema' on May 1st 1952.

Elton at a tailoring factory in Leeds

The magazine describes Elton's hectic schedule during this period:

Touring key provincial cities making personal appearances at theatres screening Walt Disney's British production in Technicolor, "The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men," Elton Hayes, who plays Allan-a-Dale, the roaming troubadour in the RKO Radio release, earned great added publicity for the film by visiting hospitals, children's homes, dance salons and big local functions. (1). Between times of his appearances at the Plaza, Woodford, Hayes attended the Delphian League match between Woodford Town and Rainham Town, "doing the honours" by kicking off.

Elton 'Kicks off'

His promotional tour continued:

Elton at Cardiff Castle

(2). Hayes relaxes during his strenuous tour by singing to attendants of the Empire, the Cardiff theatre at which he appeared, in the picturesque grounds of the Castle. (3). After appearing at the Gaumont, Liverpool, Hayes is cornered by young autograph hunters. (4). Prior to appearing at the Majestic and Scala theatres in Leeds, Hayes visited the tailoring factory of Price and tried his hand at cutting a suit. He is watched by (second from left) Mr. W. Finan, personnel manager of the firm, and (second from right) Mr. C. Willmott, manager of the Scala. (5). While in Birmingham, where he appeared at the Gaumont, Hayes paid a mid-day visit to the National Trades Fair at Bingley Hall, where he is pictured on the stage with Harry Roy and his band, entertaining a large audience with hit tunes from the Disney adventure.

We now know that after the 'official' premiere of The Story of Robin Hood in London at the Leicester Square Theatre on the 13th March 1952, there were 'provincial' premieres the following month. Elton then sailed off to America on a further promotional tour on May 8th 1952.

Back in 2017, Geoff Waite very kindly shared with us some images from his own private collection of some of these provincial premieres. 

Joan Rice (Maid Marian) and James Hayter (Friar Tuck) visited Portsmouth and Southsea on the 7th of April 1952.  On April 24th Joan also joined Elton Hayes at the Odeon in Manchester. Then Elton  visited the Gaumont Theatre in Liverpool on the 27th. The accompanying film on these occasions were Hammer, The Toff starring John Bentley and Patricia Dainton.  I discovered that the provincial premiere of Robin Hood in Manchester was during the midnight matinee on April 24th 1952 at the Odeon Theatre.  

Elton Hayes and Joan Rice at the Odeon Theatre Manchester 

I would have loved to have been sitting amongst the audience in Bingley Hall listening to Elton playing those tunes from Robin Hood!

Special thanks to Neil and Geoff for providing the information and making us aware of these provincial premieres. 

To read more about Elton Hayes, Joan Rice, the Film Premiere and a whole lot more, just click on the links in the side panel.

Elton Hayes the Minstrel


The unidentified article (shown above) reads:

This modern-day minstrel is a transatlantic troubadour, having sought and won the patronage of the B.B.C. Films, recordings for Parlophone and H.M.V. and the Stage.

Elton Hayes compiles his program with great care - 'The trouble is that you may know hundreds of songs, but if they're all the same type only a few may be suitable for a Recital Programme; to overcome that trouble I often have to write my own'.

But in writing them Elton Hayes is doing just as his medieval predecessors did, bring up to date a medieval art, the only difference being, that none of them played to such a vast audience as the modern- day minstrel.

Elton Hayes (1915-2001) was ‘made for the part’ of Alan a Dale the legendary wandering minstrel. He carried the story uniquely from scene to scene, imitating the link the legend has with the balladeers that first spread the legend in medieval England. 

70 years ago, Elton together with a rich array of talented actors and actresses was busy filming the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men at Denham Studios and Burnam Beeches in Buckinghamshire, England. Although this wonderful version of the legend has held up remarkably well down the decades and many critics rate it highly in the long list of Robin Hood productions, today it is generally forgotten. One of the reasons is probably due to the DVD not being released by Disney in Europe and also their cartoon version of the legend overshadowing the earlier live-action production.

Others in the film's cast were Richard Todd, who played the title role; James Robertson Justice, Little John; Martitia Hunt as Queen Eleanor, and James Hayter as Friar Tuck.

James Hayter as Friar Tuck and Elton Hayes as Alan a Dale

Hayes said Robin Hood was his second association with Walt Disney. He was hired by Disney to prepare original sea chanties for Treasure Island, due to the fact that Hayes collection of old English ballads were unrivalled in all of England.

At the time he was described as Britain's counterpart to America's Burl Ives, ballad and folk singer.

There are a couple of C.D's available of the music of Elton Hayes. But for fans of the Story of Robin Hood, I recommend the remastered compilation by Windyridge (WINDYVAR90), which includes 'Whistle My Love,' and 'Riddle de Diddle De Day.'

Promotional Spanish Magazine Article

A Spanish Magazine article about The Story of Robin Hood

I am sorry my postings have been few and far between. There are a number of reasons - including trying to move house which has been a rollercoaster of experiences! So a big thank you to Matt Crandall for helping me by sending this Spanish magazine article promoting the release of Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in 1952. 

Joan Rice as Maid Marian

Those of you that have explored the hundreds of pages and images on this blog, will be familiar with the pictures used in that magazine. So I have shared a similar promotional photograph of the lovely Joan Rice above, which I have colourised. 

Richard Todd as Robin Hood

The photograph of Walt Disney with his wife and two daughters in that magazine, is interesting. From the photographs I have seen of him on the set at Denham during the making of The Story of Robin Hood, I am sure he looked older! What do you think?

70th Anniversary of The Story of Robin Hood

I have many favourite stills from Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men (1952) and this is one of them. Richard Todd as Robin Hood puts his protective arms around Maid Marian played by the beautiful Joan Rice. Do you have a favourite?

This movie had a huge influence on me. I was already a huge Disney fan, but I can remember sitting in my local Granada cinema when I was a teenager, being transfixed by the visual feast before my eyes. The glorious Technicolor, the wonderful characters, the visual effects and of course I fell in love with Joan Rice.

As we approach the 70th Anniversary of the start of filming at Denham Studios, I can't help wishing Disney would release an anniversary DVD of The Story of Robin Hood, containing extras and behind-the-scenes footage. Wouldn't that be a fitting tribute to this wonderful film and the vast amount of talented people that were involved in creating this masterpiece?

Advertising the Story of Robin Hood


One of the many things I have learned, since writing this blog about the Story of Robin Hood, is the huge amount of advertising and promotion that Disney used for his films. We have seen in previous articles the images of the shop displays in many of the major stores in London, completely decked-out with 'Robin Hood' toys and memorabilia in 1952. Click the link ‘Film Premiere’ to see more.

In my last blog post I showed, with the help of Janet VanMeter, how Walt Disney and Robin Hood Flour combined to promote his newly released live-action movie. Available with a purchase of Robin Hood Flour, were posters, cookie cutters and free comic books - all linked to the movie.

Above is another example of Disney's advertising campaign. This full page (above) was kindly sent in by Neil and shows Robin Hood Flour alongside an extraordinary collection of companies, all promoting the Story of Robin Hood.

Robin Hood Flour


Janet VanMeter a Robin Hood fan and regular reader of this blog has recently shared pictures of her complete cookie cutter collection and poster that promoted Walt Disney's Story of Robin Hood and Robin Hood Flour.

Janet's cookie cutter collection

Also included in the promotion of the film were three giveaway small comic books, 7.25 inches tall x 5 inches wide and printed by Western Publishing. The first free comic was ‘The Miller’s Ransom,’ followed by the ‘Ghosts of Waylea Castle', the third is sadly unknown. The comics were written by Don Christensen and illustrated by Tony Sgroi and Russ Manning.

Robin Hood Flour was founded in 1900 by Donald Mclean in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, in western Canada. In 1909 the mill was taken over by Francis Atherton Bean of Minneapolis and within two years it was producing over 1,600 barrels of flour a day.

Using the green and red archer emblem as a sign of good value and respectability, Robin Hood Flour and its recipes have remained popular for over a century. In the late 50’s and early 1960’s the company even used a jingle made from the theme tune of the classic TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood which starred Richard Greene.

Thank you Janet for sharing your collection.

The RKO Joint Receptions


A while ago Geoff Wait sent some fantastic images of Elton Hayes attending a premiere of Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men in Cardiff. We now know that several other members of the cast also made personal appearances at selected cinemas. But, the article I have featured in this blog post is a mystery which I hope my readers can solve.

The images I am showing unfortunately do not have a date and come from an unknown source. They feature RKO-Radio’s joint receptions in provinces for Saturday Island and the Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men. 

The premiere of the Story of Robin Hood was held at the Leicester Square Theatre on Thursday 13th March 1952. In the audience were many distinguished guests and celebrities, including the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Nottingham who presented a gift to Joan Rice (Maid Marian in the movie).

Other guests included Claudette Colbert, Donald Peers, Petula Clark, Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle.

The Mayor of Westminster also attended, along with the ‘real’ Sheriff of Nottingham who met up with Peter Finch (the Sheriff in the movie) at the reception. The theatre attracted hundreds of sightseers and was covered by the ‘television newsreel cameras’ of the time.

It would be very interesting to know when exactly these RKO Joint Receptions were held.

From the advertisements of the time, we have seen that several films accompanied the showing of Disney’s Story of Robin Hood:

Hammer, The Toff  (1952) starring John Bentley and Patricia Dainton was shown with Disney’s Robin Hood at the Gaumont Theatre in Manchester.

Seal Island (1948) an American documentary film directed by James Algar. Produced by Walt Disney, this was the first instalment of the True-Life Adventures.

Saturday Island (1952) (also known as Island of Desire) was an adventure romance war film directed by Stuart Heisler and starring Linda Darnell, Tab Hunter and Donald Gray. Shown during the RKO Joint Receptions.

Do you know when these RKO Joint Receptions were held?